It’s the time of year where backpacks are overflowing with new pencils, books and essential smartphones, tablets and other devices that go hand-in-hand with learning. Back-to-school time means we’re charging and using our devices even more to keep up with homework and hectic days.
Here’s a few tips to stay safe while using your devices.
Don’t overload outlets or surge protectors.
With so many devices around our homes, it’s tempting to plug them all into a single outlet, jamming it with outlet adapters and surge protectors to charge lots of devices. And, it’s no surprise: a third of Americans live in a household with three or more smartphones, according to the PEW Research Center. Consider setting up multiple charging stations around your home to spread the load between several outlets, rather than stacking chargers all into a single outlet.
Check all charging cables for frayed cords.
Heavy usage on charging cables causes cords to fray or puts wear on rubber at key connections. Make a point to inspect your cables each time you use them. It’s time to get a replacement if you can see wires. If you are using an iPhone or other Apple device, take the opportunity to upgrade to an MFi-certified cable, which means it is approved by the company for safe use with these devices. Cheap chargers without certification are known to start electrical fires.
Pull plugs by their base, not the cord.
Power cords can break easily if you are pulling them from a wall outlet by the cord itself. It’s important to always pull from the base of the plug, in order to avoid a dangerous break. The base of a plug is engineered to take the day-to-day tugs of plugging and unplugging. Also, if you notice that the plug is lose when connected to an outlet, consider replacing the outlet: it may be unsafe to use.
If it’s hot, take a break.
Tablets, smartphones and laptops can overheat when playing videos or during other high-energy use tasks. If your device feels hot, give it a break. When it is still hot after a break, it may be malfunctioning and could cause an explosion or electrical fire. Consider taking it in to be repaired or replacing the device if it is irreparable.
Why is all of this important during back-to-school time? The National Fire Protection Agency reportedthat there are 45,210 U.S. home structure fires annually involving electrical failure or malfunction. Sometimes, when we’re busy, we overlook the simple safety hazards in our lives. By being just a bit more attentive while using our devices, we can all be safer during the most hectic time of year.